MSA seeks to increase reliability

The organization just created a committee to review how its paid members are performing.

Haley Hansen

With a crowd of students watching, Minnesota Student Association leaders outlined which members would not receive their full stipends earlier this month.

A handful of people failed to meet all of the requirements attached to their MSA positions, which cost them anywhere from just 1 percent to almost one-third of their monthly payment.

In order to increase transparency and reliability within the undergraduate student government, the group created a system of checks and balances to ensure all members are fulfilling their duties and spending office hours responsibly. MSA’s new Internal Management Committee reviews stipend-receiving members’ performances several times a year.

This school year, MSA could dole out more than $37,000 to almost 30 members, some of whom receive stipends of nearly $5,000 each year.

The money from the stipend cuts go directly to the group’s grants budget, MSA President Joelle Stangler said.

The IMC comprises three MSA members. Stangler and MSA’s chief of staff also write reports on stipend-receiving members when the committee meets.

When reviewing members’ performances, IMC member Michael Kutek said the group looks at the major and minor responsibilities for each position, fulfillment of office hours and whether members are attending forum and committee meetings.

“If students are paying money for fees for MSA, we should be fulfilling all of the duties we should be fulfilling as a student government,” he said.

The committee meets twice per semester and reviews every stipend-receiving member. Kutek said those with larger stipends are looked at more closely.

Any member of MSA’s forum is able to attend the committee’s meetings.

IMC member and former MSA Chief Financial Officer Quinn Jurgens said the group has encountered problems in the past with some officers not fulfilling all of their duties.

“People were elected to positions that had a very high stipend, and then they weren’t fulfilling their duties and still collecting the check,” he said.

Before this year, Stangler said when stipend-receiving members didn’t complete their work, the group still had to give them their full stipends or remove them in more serious cases.

While she said the way in which the cuts are presented to the group will likely change in the future, the results will still be available to the public.

Stangler said it’s common for large organizations that deal with a large amount of money to have similar accountability processes in place to ensure everyone is working to their full potential.

“It’s an industry standard to have a review system,” she said.

Jurgens said along with holding its members accountable, the new committee is also a way for the group to identify strengths and areas that need improvement.

“The idea isn’t just to take money away from people,” he said. “It’s to ensure everybody’s performing to their max ability.”